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THE LIBRARY- 
WGHAM YOUNG UNIVERSITY 
PROVO, UTAH 



EROS AND PSYCHE 



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in 2011 with funding from 
Brigham Young University 



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PSYCHE AT NATURE'S MIRROR 

BY PAUL THUMANN 



H 



EROS AND PSYCHE 



A FAIRY-TALE OF ANCIENT 
GREECE 



RETOLD AFTER APULEIUS 

BV 

PAUL CARUS 



ILLUSTRATIONS BY PAUL THUMANN 




THE OPEN COURT PUBLISHING COMPANY 

CHICAGO: 122 S. Michigan Avenue 

LONDON: 149 Strand. W. C. 



THE LIBRARY 

BRIGHAM YOUNG UNIVERSITY 

PROVO. UTAH 



PREFACE. 

THE story of Eros and Psyche reflects the religious 
life of classic antiquity more strongly than any 
other book, poem, or epic, not excepting the works of 
Hesiod and Homer. The Theogony of Hesiod tells of 
the origin of the gods and invests them with definite 
shape ; Homer introduces them as actors in his grand 
epics ; but the popular tale of Eros and Psyche reflects 
the sentiment with which the gods were regarded, and 
describes the attitude of man toward the problems of 
life, especially that problem of problems — the mystery 
of death and the fate of the soul in the unknown be- 
yond. 

The orthodox Greek religion consisted in the per- 
formance of certain rites, which were administered 
by the priests in the name of the state for the public 
benefit. Neither faith nor morality was required ; the 
sole thing of importance was to accord to the gods 
their due, according to established tradition, and thus 
to fulfil the duties men owe to the invisible powers, 
upon whose beneficence their welfare depends. But 
the performance of sacrifices and other ceremonies left 



IV 



PREFACE. 



the heart empty ; they were conducted in a perfunc- 
tory way by persons duly selected according to descent 
or station in life and were kept up simply from fear 
that some deity might be offended by the neglect. 
The people, however, demanded the satisfaction of 
the religious cravings of the heart, and this resulted 

in the origination of a 
new religious movement 
based on the new thoughts 
imported from Thrace, 
Egypt, Chaldaea, Phoeni- 
cia, and Syria, and find- 
ing at last definite ex- 
pression in the mysteries 
and secret teachings of 
Orpheus, Dionysos, and 
other deities. 

These innovations were 
not revolutionary. New 
gods, it is true, were in- 
troduced, but the old ones 
remained in power. Dio- 
nysos entered into an 
alliance with Demeter, 
Apollo, and Zeus. The ancient harvest festivals were 
not abolished, but enriched with ceremonial proces- 
sions and symbolic rites of new significance. Thus 
the change was not in name, but in interpretation. 
As such, however, it was none the less radical, for 




The Eros of Praxiteles. 

Torso found in Centocelle; now in 

the Vatican. (After Springer, Hdb. 

der Kunstgeschichte, I., 181, cf. Bau- 

meister, Denkm. d. cl. Alterth., 497.) 



PREFACE. v 

the very nature of the old gods underwent a thorough 
transformation, and their religious significance was 
greatly deepened. 




Sleeping Eros. 
Lateran Museum. Monument on a child's tomb. (Garrucci, plate 40, x.J 

Nor is it difficult — in spite of the mystery that sur- 
rounds them and the silence preserved concerning 
their rituals — to describe (at least in general outlines) 




The Marriage-Feast of Eros and Psyche. 

Ancient sarcophagus. (After Combe, Ancient Marbles in the British 

Museum, Vol. V., plate 9, 3.) 

the character of these innovations, for they became 
the dominant factors in the formation of the Greek 
type in its classic period and left an unmistakable 
imprint upon philosophers and poets as well as upon 



VI 



PREFACE. 



the public life of ancient Hellas. The great problem 
of Greek thought was the riddle of the sphinx, finding 
its solution in the Greek conception of man's soul as 
worked out by Plato. The mysteries themselves were 

a mixture of ancient tradi- 
tions set in relief by the 
modern Greek thought of 
the days of Peisistratos 
and later of Pericles; and 
traces of antiquated folk- 
lore were thus displayed in 
the light of the greatest 
wisdom of the age. 

That Plato and his doc- 
trines affected Christianity 
is well known, and so we 
may, in the evolution of 
religion, regard the hopes 
and dreams of the mys- 
teries, especially the Eleu- 
sinian mysteries, as one of 
the most important phases 
in the transition to Chris- 
tianity. 

All these views found 
expression in the fairy tale 
of Eros and Psyche — the only fairy tale of ancient 
Greece that has come down to us; and it is not an 
accident that Eros and Psyche should have appeared 




Eros and Psyche. 

Antique marble group now in the 
museum of the Capitol at Rome. 



PREFACE. 



vn 






both on a Mithras gem and on a Christian sarcoph- 
agus, side by side with the Good Shepherd. 

The tale of Eros and Psyche bears all the marks of 
a genuine Marchen, and 
the main outline of the 
story must be supposed 




Mithraistic Gem, 



to date back to prehis- 
toric ages. 

All genuine fairy tales 

are Old and reflect a civi- Mithras slaying the bull. On the reverse 

Eros and Psyche (broken). 

lisation that has now 

passed away. Among the Teutonic races the tales of 
Snowwhite, of the Stupid Hans or Simpleton, of 
Little Red Riding- 
hood, of Cinderella, 
of Dame Holle etc. , 
have been some- 
what changed, es- 
pecially through 
the influence of 
Christianity, yet 
their most charac- 
teristic and origi- 
nal features have 
not been oblite- 
rated, but faith- 
fully preserved. The world of fairy tales is a land 
of forests and of country life. The wayfarer meets 
^raus, Geschichte der christlichen Kunst % I., p. 102. 




Eros and Psyche Together with the Good 
Shepherd. l (Ancient sarcophagus.) 



Vlll 



PREFACE. 




Eros and Anteros. 
Relief in the Palace Colonna, Rome. Braun, Ant. Marmorwerke, 5a. 



PREFACE. 



IX 



giants, robbers, and other dangers. It is the age of 
matriarchy in which the wise old woman is a great, 
perhaps the greatest, power in the community, and 
kinship through the mother alone is recognised. 
Never a son inherits the kingdom ; it is always the 
daughter; and the hero of the tale becomes king by 
marrying a princess. This feature is still preserved 




Eros Between Elpis and Nemesis. 
Hope holds a flower and Destiny a branch. 

in the Odyssey, where Telemachus is not considered 
an heir to the throne of Ithaca, but it is taken for 
granted that that person will become king who mar- 
ries Penelope, the queen. The oldest version of 
Cinderella 1 is preserved in the Norse fairy tale of the 

1 See Prof. Karl Pearson's instructive article on the subject in 
his splendid book The Chances of Death and Other Studies in 



X 



PREFACE. 



Ash-Lad, a male Cinderella, who like the stupid Hans 
goes out to seek his fortune and finds it through his 
marriage with a princess. 

Being mirrors of a prehistoric age, fairy tales re- 
flect also the religion of our remote ancestors, and 
this is most prominent in the story of Eros and Psyche. 
We can plainly recognise in all folklore tales a belief 
in immortality, which is obscured only by the utter 




Psyche Tortured and Relieved by Cupids. 1 
Nemesis standing behind and Hope pointing to the cupid hovering above. 

absence of a line of division between the land of the 
dead and the living. The dead return to life as if 
they belonged there, and no further particulars being 
given, we might be led to think that they continue in 

Evolution, Vol. II. pp. 51-91, published by Edward Arnold, Lon- 
don, 37 Bedford St., and New York, 70 Fifth Avenue. 

1 Fresco from Pompeii. Reproduced from Zahn, Ornam. u. 
Gemalde aus Pompeii, II., pi. 62. 



PREFACE. 



XI 



life as before \ but as a rule there is nothing to pre- 
vent us from assuming that they give only an account 
of their fate after their departure. 

The story of Dame Holle is quite instructive ; the 
good girl of the story loses her spindle in the well, and 
being afraid of punishment, jumps after it to put an 
end to her misery. Now she is in the country of Dame 
Holle, who is none other,/ 
than the mother goddess 
that controls the weather 
and provides mankind with 
food. She makes the ap- 
ples grow and presides over 
the bread - baking. The 
good girl serves her faith- 
fully and is rewarded by 
being all covered with gold, 
and whenever she speaks, 
a gold piece falls out of her 
mouth. Now the bad girl 
goes down to Dame Holle, Psyche Chid by Venus. 

but she suffers the bread to Ca P itol ' Rome - (Afterciarac.pl. 654.) 
burn and the apples to rot, and proving herself lazy 
and indolent in everything, is punished by being 
covered with pitch, and whenever she speaks a toad 
jumps out of her mouth. 

In this fairy tale, as in many other instances, the 
goddess of the earth is at the same time mistress of 




xii PREFACE. 

the realm of the dead, which is assumed to be under 

ground, in the depths of the earth. 

The world of the departed is frequently depicted 

as the land beyond the river, and a little nursery 

rhyme suggests the idea that the river has no other 

shore : 

" Gray goose and gander, waft your wings together, 
And carry the good king's daughter over the one- 
strand river." * 

As the rhyme reads now, it has become unintelli- 
gible. But it appears that that power in nature which 
mates goose and gander is indispensable for crossing 
the one-strand river. The king's daughter is a North- 
ern Psyche crossing the Styx. 

An English version of the story of Eros and Psyche 
is preserved in the tale of Beauty and the Beast, and 
the religious element is most obvious in both. The 
connexion in which Death stands to Love in these 
stories of ages long past is full of deep thought and 
suggests the idea that Death, which appears as a mon- 
ster, a beast, a terror, is after all a friendly power, a 
kind friend, a blessing. The interrelation that obtains 
between birth and death was felt by primitive man 
perhaps more keenly than by later generations. The 
aged, the crippled, the weary of life go to rest, but so 
long as love prevails mankind does not die out, and 
the human soul reappears in renewed beauty and vigor. 

1 See Book of Nursery Rhymes, Methuen & Co., 36 Essex 
Street, Strand, W. C. London, 1897, page 89. 



PREFACE. 



xm 



This observation of the close interrelation between 
death and love is the central idea of the story of Eros 
and Psyche, which, judging from the monuments, was 
very popular in ancient Greece, but has been preserved 
only in the version of Apuleius, as told in his romance, 
The Golden Ass. 

In the best days of Greek art, Eros is always rep- 
resented as a youth of about twenty, but when love 




Eros in the Underworld.1 
Votive terra-cotta tablet from South Italy. 

degenerated into childish frivolities, artists began to 
picture him as a child, and now whole families of 
Eroses, mostly called by their Latin name, Cupids or 

1 The powers of the Underworld, called the Chthonian gods, 
are closely related to the deities of life and reproduction. Thus 
both Eros and Aphrodite are sometimes represented in their 
Chthonian significance. The votive tablet here reproduced from 
Lewis Richard Farnell, M. A., The Cults of the Greek States \ 



XIV 



PREFACE. 



Amors, have been introduced into art j the most beau- 
tiful humorous representation of this style being a 
relief by Thorwaldsen after classical models, entitled 
"The Sale of Cupids," where these winged mischief- 
mongers are conceived in the spirit of the Anacreontic 
poetry. 

The redactor of the story of Eros and Psyche, as 
here retold, has brought out the religious and philo- 
sophical Leitmotiv with more emphasis than it pos- 




The Sale of the Cupids. 
Frieze by Thorwaldsen. 

sesses in the tale of Apuleius. By obliterating the 
flippant tone in which their satirical author frequently 
indulges, and by adding a few touches where the real 
significance of the narrative lies, he believes that he 

II., pi. XLVIII., p. 697, shows Hermes in his capacity as psycho- 
pompos or leader of souls through the valley of death. He is con- 
fronted by a woman holding in her outstretched hand the blossom 
of a pomegranate, the symbol of death. Between them stands a 
phallus, and on the woman's arm hovers an Eros with a pome- 
granate on a branch in his hand. The woman may be the person 
that presented the votive tablet or a goddess of the Underworld, 
either Persephone or a Chthonian Aphrodite. 



PREFACE. xv 

has remained faithful to the spirit of the ancient M ar- 
chen and thereby succeeded in setting in relief the 
serious nature of the story and the religious comfort 
that underlies this most exquisite production of hu- 
man fiction. 



The best illustrations of the story of Eros and 
Psyche, Greek in conception and purely classical in 
execution, were made by Paul Thumann, and pub- 
lished for the first time by Adolf Titze, a publisher 
of Leipsic, who is justly famous for his high-class 
illustrations of classical poetry. 

Bent on offering to the public the best that could 
be had, we were fortunate enough to acquire the right 
to use this valuable series of pictures, from both the 
artist and the publisher, to whom our acknowledg- 
ments are due for their courteous compliance with our 
wishes. 

Michelangelo's illustrations of Eros and Psyche are 
grand. They represent less the classical style than the 
conception of the Renaissance. They are very realis- 
tic and in massiveness approach the Dutch style of 
Rubens. Thorwaldsen, however, again almost sur- 
passes Thumann in expressing classical taste in his 
low relief. 

The leading motive of the story, the contrast between 
love and death, has especial interest for the author and 
he has frequently touched upon it in several of his 



xvi PREFACE. 

writings, for instance, Whence and Whither, An Inquiry 
into the Nature of the Soul, in the chapter "Death the 
Fountain of Life"; Our Children, pp. 18-19; The Soul 
of Man, in "The Communism of Soul-Life," and kin- 
dred chapters; also Personality, "The Superpersonality 
of Ideas" where we learn that the life of ideas is really 
superpersonal and that there is an inter-individual 
cohesion in the cultural development of mankind. 

Paul Carus. 



CONTENTS. 



PAGE 



A Rival of Aphrodite i 

The Sacrifice 8 

The Wonderful Palace 12 

Longings 21 

Intrigues 28 

Doubts and Anxieties 34 

The Mystery Solved 40 

The Punishment of Guilt 46 

The Censure 52 

The Quest 58 

Submission 65 

The Three Tasks 69 

The Realm of Death .77 

The Marriage Feast 86 



A RIVAL OF APHRODITE. 

IN the days when the Olympian gods still 
governed the world, there lived a king 
and a queen who had three beautiful daugh- 
ters. The elder two, Megalometis and Bas- 
kania, were exceeding fair, but the youngest, 
whose name was Psyche, so much surpassed 
her sisters in beauty that human language 
seemed too poor to express worthily her 
charms; for, indeed, Nature had exhausted 
upon this sweet maiden all her treasures of 
grace and loveliness. 

Psyche was remarkably demure and mod- 
est. She loved and worshipped Artemis, the 
tutelary deity of virgins, but shunned the gay 
festivals of Venus Aphrodite, the goddess of 
love and beauty. 

Once when upon some special occasion the 
three princesses were expected to appear in 



2 EROS AND PSYCHE. 

public as priestesses of Aphrodite, Psyche re- 
fused to accept the honor and thereby gave 
offence to the goddess ; but her parents re- 
proached her for neglecting the duties of reli- 
gion and persuaded her at last, though not 




without great difficulty, to fulfil the office and 
serve the deity of beauty in the temple accord- 
ing to the established rites of pious usage. 

When at the appointed moment Psyche 
stepped forth to the altar in the presence of a 
great multitude, she looked so beautiful in 



EROS AND PSYCHE. 3 

her maiden coyness, that the people gazed at 
her in wonder and forgot all else on her 
account. They were so enraptured with the 
sight that they cried out ' ' Here is Beauty in- 
carnate ! Here is the living Aphrodite ! Here 
is the true goddess of love!" and strewing 
flowers in her path they stood before her in 
awe and worshipped the maiden as though she 
had been Venus Aphrodite herself. 

The fame of Psyche's beauty spread rap- 
idly throughout the surrounding countries, 
and the legend became current that Venus 
Aphrodite had appeared in the flesh and 
was walking visibly in the society of mortals. 

The temples at Paphos, Cnidus, and even 
at Cythera, stood deserted. The statues of 
Aphrodite no longer received their due hon- 
ors, and her altars were covered with cold 
ashes. Every one who wanted to pay homage 
or offer prayer to the goddess of Love and 
Beauty now addressed himself to Psyche and 
adored in the lovely princess the ideal of wo- 
manhood. 

Seeing the honors of divine worship so 
profusely showered upon a mortal maiden, 



EROS AND PSYCHE. 



Aphrodite became incensed and said to herself 
in indignation: " Shall I, the divine mother 
of the universe, the origin and source of all 
things, yield my place and honors to a miser- 
able mortal maiden? Shall my holy name be 
profaned by being attributed to a woman of 




human parentage only because she is sup- 
posed to bear my image? Shall I surrender 
the golden apple, the prize for the fairest, to 
a daughter of earth endowed with a beauty 
that is fading? Never! Be she radiant as the 
rising sun or noble in descent as the scions of 
the most ancient royal houses, she shall not 



EROS AND PSYCHE. 



enjoy the fruits of her assumption, and I will 
take care that she shall soon curse her crimi- 
nal pretensions. n 

Brooding on vengeance, Aphrodite came 




up from the sea and called her son, Eros ; she 
greeted the winged wanton youth with moth- 
erly tenderness, and said: " Go down, my 
boy, to the city .which I shall point out to 
thee, where thou wilt find in the royal palace 



6 EROS AND PSYCHE. 

a princess by the name of Psyche. The in- 
fatuated creature dares to vie with thy mother, 
and has become a rival of my beauty. I con- 
jure thee, let me have full revenge. Seize 
thy bow and arrows, aim at her heart, make 
her the slave of an unworthy love, and when 
the giddy girl inconsiderately sacrifices her 
honor and self-respect, she will by her own 
foolishness speedily ruin her beauty, and de- 
grade her dignity. One who dares to rival 
the gods must be prepared to pass through 
the severest ordeals and to go down to the 
realm of death in misery and wretchedness. " 

Eros departed in the direction of the royal 
palace of Psyche's parents. His eyes beamed 
with mischief when he descended into the 
orchard, hiding in the branches of an apple- 
tree, like a hunter who deems it wise first to 
study the habits of his game ; and a smile of 
satisfaction passed over the face of Aphrodite 
when she saw how readily and gladly her son 
complied with her request. 

Aphrodite saw the winged sportsman dis- 
appear at a distance and then took her way 
over the ocean. Mermaids, the daughters of 



EROS AND PSYCHE. 7 

Nereus, accompanied her; dolphins drew her 
conch-chariot through the waves, and a host 
of Tritons surrounded the glorious spectacle, 
leaping up from the billows and frolicking in 
joyous intoxication. One of them held up to 
the goddess a mirror, some made music by 
sounding sea shells, others spread a frothy 
web against the sun, and all were delighted to 
behold the divine beauty which is the source 
of all existence and the benign mother of the 
world. 



THE SACRIFICE. 

PSYCHE, in the meantime, did not enjoy 
the glory of her charms. The people 
admired and praised her, but there was none 
who dared to seek her in marriage ; and had 
there been one bold enough to woo her, the 
suitor would scarcely have been worthy of her 
hand and would have proved unacceptable to 
the princess. Her older sisters had been 
wedded to kings, and were happily married, 
but she remained at home like a widow, be- 
wailing her fate and hating the very beauty 
which was the cause of her misery. The 
king, her father, fearing that the gods were 
angry with his daughter, inquired at Delphi 
of Apollo and received the following oracle : 

" Lead this most lovable maiden 
Away to the top of a mountain. 



EROS AND PSYCHE. 9 

Let her appear as a bride, 
Ready to enter the tomb. 

" Chant hymeneals and dirges; 

Her groom is that terrible tyrant 
Whose jurisdiction extends 
Both to the heavens and hell. 

" Do not ye dare disobey, 

But trusting submit to the mandate. 
Joy shall be mingled with gloom, 
For your bereavement bodes bliss." 

When the oracle became known, the whole 
country was overcome with grief. Above all, 
the king and the queen lamented the sad fate 
of their daughter, but Psyche with calm com- 
posure said to her parents : u What is the use 
of your weeping and wailing? This is the 
penalty for my beauty. When all the people 
called me the fairest of the fair, and wor- 
shipped me as Aphrodite, the goddess of love, 
then was the time for lamenting. Attend now 
to the ceremony without further ado, and re- 
member that there is only one Aphrodite, one 
divine mother of all things, who by right de- 
serves the honor of being worshipped as the 
eternal standard of beauty. I am resigned, 



10 



EROS AND PSYCHE. 



and will welcome the awful spouse whom des- 
tiny has chosen for me." 

Being unable to resist the will of the gods, 
the wretched parents prepared the maiden for 
the funeral marriage. The nuptial torch was 
lit, but it had no light for the princess, only 




dismal fire and smoke; the hymeneal hymn 
was chanted, but its tune was changed into a 
mournful dirge. The princess was dressed in 
costly garments and decked with choice flow- 
ers, but behind her bridal veil she wept bitter 
tears. 



EROS AND PSYCHE. 



11 



Psyche was led out of the city to the top 
of a high mountain. The priests performed 
the ceremony in sadness and the people la- 
mented the pitiful lot that had befallen her. 




When all rites had been duly performed, the 
multitude of friends and sympathisers who 
had accompanied the doomed maiden returned 
to the city. Only her parents lingered for a 



12 EROS AND PSYCHE. 

while longer with their unfortunate daughter, 
but at last they too departed and Psyche cried 
out: "Fare ye well, and let me find comfort 
in the thought that ye will moderate your 
grief. Remember that my name is a proph- 
ecy: it links my destiny with invisible but 
strong ties to the fate of the dainty butterfly. 
A grovelling grub entombs herself as a chrys- 
alis in the cocoon whence she comes forth a 
being of celestial beauty, whose body seems 
to consist of pure ether and rainbow colors, a 
winged flower, a living parable of profound 
sentiment and a fitting emblem of the human 
soul." 



THE WONDERFUL PALACE. 

PSYCHE remained alone on the mountain 
top in gloomy loneliness. Overcome 
with the heat of the day, and breaking down 
under the fatigue of the excitement of part- 
ing, she fell asleep. Having regained some 
strength, she felt a cool breeze fanning her 
burning brow. It was Zephyr, the mild eve- 
ning wind, who, at the behest of Eros, ap- 
proached the dreaming princess, and gently 
lifting her up carried her down over the craggy 
rocks and the winding streamlets of the moun- 
tain-side to a flowery meadow in the valley 
below. 

When the maiden awoke she was surprised 
to find herself lying on the turf amid fragrant 
herbs, near a grove. A babbling brook as 
clear as crystal meandered through the valley, 
and where its limpid waters rushed over the 



14 



EROS AND PSYCHE. 



rocks in a melodious cataract, there she saw 
looming up before her a grand palace, wonder- 
ful in its structure and noble in its deco- 
rations. Refreshed in body and soul, she 




ascended the steps which led up to the myste- 
rious building and passed through the stately 
portal. 

The enraptured maiden felt as if she were 



EROS AND PSYCHE. 15 

dreaming. What elegant halls and chambers ! 
The columns were of gold, the walls of solid 
silver inlaid with enamelled pictures and curi- 
ously wrought in various hues. Psyche's eyes 
wandered in bewilderment from the mosaic of 
the pavement to the exquisite designs of the 
ceiling and then again to the statues and 
vases that embellished the niches. On all the 
things that presented themselves to the in- 
truder's timid gaze there rested a heart-glad- 
dening repose that made the house a fit place 
for the communion of gods with men. 

While Psyche was still lost in admiration, 
she heard a voice which said: " Welcome, 
beautiful bride, welcome to thy home ; thou 
shalt be the mistress of this mansion which 
thy husband has provided for thee I ' ' 

The astonished maiden looked around, but 
she saw no one. The air was rilled with fra- 
grance, and the words sounded like music, but 
the speaker was invisible and seemed to hover 
near her, quite near in bodiless presence. 
Who art thou? n asked Psyche. 
It is thy husband that greets thee, n was 
the reply. 






16 EROS AND PSYCHE. 

" Whosoever thou mayst be," rejoined the 
maiden, almost breathless in surprise and 
suspense, "wilt thou not show thyself to thy 
bride that I may see thee face to face? I was 
told that the husband whom fate has assigned 
me is a terrible tyrant, a superhuman monster 
whom the celestials fear no less than do the 
inhabitants of hell. Show thyself as thou art 
and do not assume a more pleasing shape than 
thy real nature warrants." 

"Dearest bride," replied the voice, "be 
satisfied with my love and have confidence in 
thy husband. An unalterable decree renders 
it necessary for me to hide my face, but at 
night when utter darkness surrounds us I 
shall be with thee and thou shalt feel my pres- 
ence. Then thou thyself shalt judge whether 
I am truly such a monster as thou didst fear. 
But now let thy cares vanish and allow my 
servants to minister unto thee." 

Psyche now inspected the palace and its 
extensive grounds. The invisible servants 
explained to her the significance of the pic- 
tures and other treasures. If she could only 
see her companions ! But they were like air, 



EROS AND PSYCHE. 



\7 



and when she tried to seize them they eluded 
her and escaped like birds. 

Having strolled through the meadows and 
the park surrounding the palace, Psyche re- 




freshed herself with a bath ; and when she sat 
down at a table, a banquet with rare dishes 
was served by invisible hands. But when the 
night drew near, she retired to an elegant 
chamber and secured the door behind her. 



18 



EROS AND PSYCHE. 



Although celestial music resounded over her 
couch, she became conscious of her loneliness 
and began to weep, for she thought of her 
parents and sisters and the friends she should 




never meet again. But soon she fell asleep, 
and sweet dreams refreshed her soul. 

Suddenly Psyche was awakened by the 
touch of a warm hand and a kiss on her lips. 
She shuddered in fearful expectation of an 



EROS AND PSYCHE. 19 

unknown danger. But a sweet voice, the very 
same that had accosted her at her entrance 
into the palace, comforted her in her distress, 
saying : ' ' Fear not ! though the darkness of 
night surround thee, I am with thee! My 
love shall protect thee. Shouldst thou pass 
through the gate of death thou wilt be guarded 
by the spell of my thoughts. I sustain thee 
and cherish thee. Even if thou goest down 
to hell, thou shalt not perish. Thou art 
mine, O thou soul of my being; and I am 
thine — I that am love, I that am the delight 
of the world, I that am the giver of life." 

A thrill of joy passed through Psyche's 
soul. She opened her arms, and when she 
closed them she embraced the tender form of 
a youth in the bloom of life. And as she felt 
his sweet breath on her cheek she trembled 
with rapture, and cried out, " Who art thou, 
and how is it that thou takest pity on me, the 
outcast who have been doomed to die as a sac- 
rifice on the altar of the most terrible monster 
among the demons of hell?" 

1 ' Fear not that monster of whom the or- 
acle spoke," said the youth in a low whisper, 



20 EROS AND PSYCHE. 

u for I am he, I am the demon whom the in- 
habitants of heaven fear as much as do the 
denizens of hell. I am thy husband and thou 
art my bride." 

"Why then," rejoined Psyche, "if thou 
truly art Death, the fearful ruler in the land 
of shades, whom even the mighty Zeus dreads, 
why dost thou come to me in so pleasing a 
disguise? Thy voice is music, thy breath the 
perfume of roses, and the touch of thy lips 
transports my soul. What shall I call thee, 
thou sweet dissembler? n 

u Call me Love," said the voice, u for that 
lam!" 

While thus Psyche pledged her troth to 
the husband who offered her his love, a choir 
of invisible spirits sang the hymeneal hymn : 

"O Love and Death, O Death and Love, 
How wondrous kin ye are ! 
The planet Venus thus at once 
Is evening and morning star ! 

"O Love and Death, O Death and Love, 
Life ended, Life begun. 
The sun may rise, the sun may set, 
'Tis still the self-same sun. 



EROS AND PSYCHE. 21 

"Life's problem here at last is solved. 
Step in; the door's ajar. 
O Love and Death, O Death and Love, 
How wondrous kin ye are !" 



LONGINGS. 

PSYCHE lived happily with her unknown 
husband and would have remained con- 
tented had not the incertitude regarding her 




husband's person disquieted her mind. Dur- 
ing the day she was entertained in every pos- 
sible manner by the tame birds and animals 
that peopled the groves, as well as by the in- 



EROS AND PSYCHE. 23 

visible servants that ministered unto her and 
anticipated even her most secret desires ; and 
in the night her husband visited her, unseen 
and unknown, yet kind and loving, and al- 
ways merry and buoyant. 

What a pleasure his company was, how 
entertaining his conversation ! Sometimes his 
thoughts were lofty and inspiring ; sometimes 
frolicksome and even wanton. Now his words 
were deep, like Plato's philosophy, and now 
they were jocund and full of mirth. Was it 
possible that so many contradictions could be 
united in one man? 

Psyche asked in vain for an explanation 
of the mystery ; he evaded all questions and 
at last bade her no longer be disturbed by 
doubt but to trust him implicitly, for, he 
added, u Inquisitiveness threatens thee with 
danger. Either I am the deadly monster, as 
the oracle called me, and then thou must take 
me as I am ; or that grim fiend is after all not 
so terrible as people imagine.' ' 

So long as her husband stayed with her, 
Psyche was satisfied with her lot, for he 
laughed all her sorrows away and made her 



24 



EROS AND PSYCHE. 



forget all anxiety ; but when he was gone, 
she felt desolate and the diversions offered by 
her invisible servants gradually grew stale and 
monotonous. Incertitude seemed worse to her 
than positive knowledge of the worst. Under 
these conditions, the young bride became 
homesick and longed to have some news from 




her parents and sisters and friends who lived 
in the wide wheat-covered plains beyond the 
mountain. She began to frequent the most 
retired places where she took delight in giv- 
ing herself up to melancholy thoughts. 

In the meantime Psyche's parents were 
disconsolate in their bereavement. Their 



EROS AND PSYCHE, 25 

youngest child had been dearer to them than 
their own life ; and now, seeking for a mod- 
eration of their grief, they sent for their two 
eldest daughters to come and gladden their 
afflicted hearts. 

These two princesses, who had become 
queens in distant countries, were dearly be- 
loved by their husbands, both of whom were 
powerful kings ; and seeing how little their 
parents were comforted by their presence, 
they grew jealous of their younger sister, 
even though they deemed her in the clutches 
of Death, the all-devouring monster, king of 
the infernal regions. 

Psyche, being a dutiful child, inquired fre- 
quently of her lover about the fate of her par- 
ents, and he was glad to bring her the good 
tidings of the arrival of the two queens. But 
the news only added new fuel to the flame of 
discontent that was burning in the bosom of 
the banished princess, who became now ex- 
ceedingly anxious to see her sisters and, if 
possible, to talk with them. 

Psyche's consort grew very serious, say- 
ing : "I will do for thee whatever I can ; and 



26 EROS AND PSYCHE. 

will allow thee to see thy sisters who will re- 
appear at the monument that has been built 
on the mountain-top in commemoration of 
thy departure from the world of men ; but I 
advise thee not to talk with them, because it 
may bring disaster to thee and me, and will 
certainly cause much tribulation, for thine in- 
tercourse with the world threatens to destroy 
forever the happiness of our marriage. Venus 
Aphrodite, the great Goddess of Beauty and 
most powerful in the assemblage of the Olym- 
pians, is still a bitter enemy of thine. We 
must therefore keep our love secret ; and it is 
best that even thou shouldst not know of the 
difficulties that beset the path of our con- 
nubial hopes. Aphrodite imagines now that 
thou art utterly undone. She planned thy 
ruin and destined thee to dire perdition, but 
I shall not let thee die in misery and if ever 
love can accomplish the miracle, I will make 
thee happy in spite of her enmity." 

Psyche kissed her lover fervently ; and he 
continued : c ' My servants shall do their best 
and I have taken care to surround thee with 
all the comfort that thou mayst desire. " The 



EROS AND PSYCHE. 27 

latter remark reminded Psyche of her loneli- 
ness in all her luxuries. She threw up her 
head and answered flippantly : " I hate this 
very comfort which thy ubiquitous servants 
procure for me. They are an insufferable an- 
noyance and I would rather be rid of their 
meddlesome intrusion. I never know whether 
they are behind me or in front of me. They 
watch me like gaolers. I am a prisoner here; 
nothing but a prisoner. What is the use of a 
gilded cage if the captive bird is forever cut 
off from his former companions ?" 

The maiden began to sob and would not 
listen to any remonstrance or explanation. 
She accused her husband of tyranny until 
finally he yielded to her entreaties and prom- 
ised that she should receive a visit from her 
sisters. " But," added he, "be on thy guard, 
and do not allow any one to come between 
thee and me or induce thee to pry into the 
secret of my personality. Nothing worse could 
befall thee, for if thou shouldst prove disobe- 
dient to this behest of mine, thine indiscretion 
might separate us forever. n 

Psyche promised everything, saying: "I 



28 EROS AND PSYCHE. 

would rather surrender all the comforts which 
I enjoy through thy beneficence and even suf- 
fer death than be deprived of thy company, 
my beloved husband, my lord and my love." 
When her invisible consort left her at 
dawn of day, Psyche was elated with the idea 
that she should soon see her sisters and be 
able to send a message of comfort to her dear 
mourning parents. 



INTRIGUES. 

MEGALOMETIS and Baskania had be- 
taken themselves to the mountain-top 
and deposited a beautiful wreath of flowers on 
their sister's monument, when Psyche bade 
Zephyr bring them down to the palace in the 
valley. The two sisters felt as if they were 
being precipitated into a deep abyss ; they 
grew dizzy, but when their feet were again 
placed on solid soil they were astonished at 
the marvellous change in their surroundings. 
What a magnificent building rose before their 
eyes, and there between the marble columns 
stood Psyche! " Sisters, " she cried, "why 
do you mourn for me? Behold I am happy 
and know no pain, no misery, no cares. Fol- 
low me into my palace and rejoice with me in 
my good fortune. n 

With these words she embraced her sisters 



\ 



30 



EROS AND PSYCHE. 



and urged them to enter. "You must see my 
new home," she added, " and tell my parents 
that I am alive and happy. It will assuage 
their grief, for they will then know that there 
is no cause for mourning." 




The young bride, proud of her husband's 
power and munificence, showed her visitors 
through the halls and corridors of the palace 
resplendent with luxury and comfort. Her 
guests had difficulty in concealing their envy, 
for though both were queens and in possession 
of great wealth they had never in their lives 



EROS AND PSYCHE. 31 

seen the like in grandeur and costliness and 
beauty. At last Baskania asked Psyche about 
her husband. "Could we not meet him and 
see him? For our parents will be anxious 
to know what manner of man he is, and 
how he happens to be in possession of all this 
wealth. " 

Psyche apologised for her husband's ab- 
sence, and when requested to describe his ap- 
pearance she remembered his injunctions and 
evaded telling her sisters that she herself 
neither knew who he was nor had as yet even 
seen him face to face. So she invented a story 
and said that her consort was young and good- 
looking, that he was a great lord oi large es- 
tates and a passionate hunter. Most of the 
time he spent roaming through the mountains 
and was frequently late in coming home. 

When the two sisters had returned on the 
wings of Zephyr to their parents' estates and 
were still walking together on the road from 
the mountain to the royal palace, they began 
to gossip about the things they had seen, and 
Psyche was sharply censured. Said Megalo- 
metis : ' ' There you see how blind Fortune is ! 



32 



EROS AND PSYCHE. 



She showers her gifts upon this foolish girl 
who has neither desert nor merit to speak of 
and is not even pretty. Her beauty is only 
skin-deep and will fade away with the bloom 
of early youth. " 




u Pretty she is, n replied Baskania, "but 
as silly as a goose. Even at school she was 
slow and acquired no accomplishments what- 
ever. But she will soon come to grief if we 



EROS AND PSYCHE. 33 

can only meet her husband and open his eyes 
to her shortcomings." 

When the next night the mysterious hus- 
band visited his lovely wife, he gave her warn- 
ing not to trust her sisters, as they were 
scheming against her. " My beloved bride, " 
said he entreatingly, " do not see these wicked 
women again. Thou art no match for them 
with their plottings and wilt be easily de- 
coyed. " 

Psyche, however, was deaf to her lover's 
warnings. She deemed herself safe, and re- 
torted : i ' Did I not guard our secret with care 
and have I not artfully concealed the sad truth 
that I know absolutely nothing about thee? 
I wonder what they would have thought of a 
husband's whimsical wish to remain invisible 
to the eyes of his loving wife? " 

c * How unconscious thou art of the danger 
which threatens us," replied Psyche's con- 
sort; "but I warn thee again to be on thy 
guard, not only for my sake, nor for the sake 
of thine own happiness, but also on account 
of the child that some day thou shalt bear me. 
Should thy sisters finally succeed in rousing 



34 EROS AND PSYCHE. 

thy inquisitive desire to discover my iden- 
tity, I should have to leave thee ; for it is be- 
yond my power to oppose the wrath of the 
celestials. n 



DOUBTS AND ANXIETIES. 

AGAIN the two sisters came to the monu- 
- merit on the mountain-top, and un- 
mindful of her husband's warning Psyche had 
them conveyed to her palace on the wings of 
Zephyr. What a pleasure it was to talk of 
olden times ! But the young bride remained 
unconscious of the evil designs of her mali- 
cious visitors, who cunningly concealed their 
envy by false caresses and the pretense of sis- 
terly love. Soon the conversation touched 
upon the point which was the sore spot in 
Psyche's life, — the personality of her hus- 
band. That he was no ordinary mortal was 
apparent ; for whence could come that super- 
natural wealth with which Psyche was sur- 
rounded ! The question was only whether he 
was a god or a demon : one of the Olympians 
or a monster from the infernal regions. 



36 EROS AND PSYCHE. 



u 



How is it possible," asked Megalometis, 
that your husband can have his mansion 
furnished with the products of so many 
strange lands? There is ivory from India 
and amber from the shores of the Baltic, not 
to speak of the treasures of Egypt and of 
Greece! " 

"0," said Psyche, u do you not know 
that my husband is a wealthy merchant and 
has spent more than twenty years travelling 
in foreign countries? n 

* ' How interesting ! ' ' exclaimed the false 
sister, in well simulated surprise. "Then he 
must be a man of large experience, wise and 
sedate, and cannot be a mere boy as I have 
always pictured him n — adding jestingly — "a 
mere youth, young and indiscreet, such as 
you are, my sweet little innocent! n 

Psyche smiled. Not suspecting a snare 
beneath this apparently good-natured taunt, 
she replied : n Yes, my husband is now in the 
very prime of life." And thinking that it 
would be better not to idealise him too much, 
she continued : ' ' His hair even shows occa- 
sional streaks of grey ! ' ' 



EROS AND PSYCHE. 37 

In her un wariness, Psyche had forgotten 
her former description, and now when she 
contradicted herself, the two queens glanced 
significantly at each other and began to follow 
up the advantage they had gained. 

U I wish," said the elder sister, "I could 
suppress these insurgent suspicions of my 
soul. I fear, I fear n — therewith she began 
to weep and sob and could speak no further. 

" What alarms you? " inquired Psyche. 

"O, nothing, nothing,' ' replied the sister, 
"I only thought, . . . ; but I had better keep 
my thoughts to myself.' ' 

"Nay," said the young bride full of ap- 
prehension, "speak out; I want to know 
what you think. It is better for me to learn 
your suspicions ; they will put me on my 
guard." 

After many entreaties, the sister at last 
exclaimed earnestly: "My dear, dear sister! 
I love you so much, and I fear you are not 
happy. It may be an unnecessary anxiety of 
mine, but there is some dreadful secret about 
your husband which makes me tremble for 
your safety. You are under a terrible ban 



38 EROS AND PSYCHE. 

and you conceal the truth from your own sis- 
ters. Love has keen eyes, and do you not 
think that our love penetrates through the 
veil which you draw over the mystery of your 
husband's personality? You called him a 
youth yesterday, now you speak of him as 
in the prime of life. Oh! I do fear there is 
some truth in the gossip of the people who 
say that you are married to a most awful in- 
fant-devouring beast, a dragon, who betrays 
you by assuming a pleasing form and only 
bides his time till you bear a child, when 
he will devour the infant together with its 
mother. n 

Psyche stood aghast with consternation 
and now confessed to her sisters that she had 
never as yet seen the countenance of her hus- 
band. "None the less," she added, "the 
touch of his body is pleasant like that of a 
youth blooming in health and beauty. n But 
the subtle sisters had an explanation for every- 
thing. " Dragons, n they claimed, " change 
their shape, and the people say that a most 
appalling monster descends every night into 
the valley, leaving it again in the early morn- 



EROS AND PSYCHE. 



39 



ing. These frightful beasts cannot maintain 
their deceptions in the light of the day and 
assume their own proper form as soon as the 
first rays of the sun shine upon them. r 




11 Now I see it all! ' cried Psyche, heart- 
broken, "The oracle proclaimed the truth; 
and I ought to have known it from the begin- 
ning, for the gods speak no falsehoods. I am 
dreadfully betrayed. My husband takes good 



40 EROS AND PSYCHE. 

care that I shall never feel tempted to look 
upon his face, and keeps me imprisoned like a 
caged bird. Oh, how miserable am I! What 
shall I do?" 

" Do not lose heart so soon, my dear 
girl," said the sisters. "When dragons as- 
sume the guise of mortal men, they lose their 
strength and can most easily be vanquished. 
The beast that visits you is apparently enam- 
oured of your beauty and suspects no danger 
at your hands. Here you have a chance of 
becoming the greatest heroine of Greece. He 
will come again as usual to beguile you with 
his false love, and when wearied by his long 
flight and intoxicated with your caresses, he 
succumbs to slumber, then you must unflinch- 
ingly and without hesitation slay him in his 
sleep. What glory awaits you, Psyche, through 
ridding the world of this pestiferous monster 
which makes so many mothers miserable by 
snatching away and devouring their infants ! ' ' 



THE MYSTERY SOLVED. 

WHEN the two scheming sisters had left 
the palace, Psyche remained alone 
with her doubts and fears. Her soul was dis- 
tracted, and her thoughts were like a turbu- 
lent sea. Now she was determined to slay 
the monster, and now she relented. Now she 
hated the beast that appeared to her in a pleas- 
ing disguise, and now her heart was overflow- 
ing with tender love for her bridegroom. What 
should she do? What was the truth? Oh! 
what would become of her in the end? 

When night came, Psyche's invisible hus- 
band again repaired to the bridal chamber 
where the young couple were wont to retire 
for their night's rest. The young bride re- 
ceived her lover with suppressed fear. She 
seemed calm, but a storm of wild thoughts, 
of misgivings and doubts, of wavering re- 



42 EROS AND PSYCHE. 

luctance and resolute determination, swept 
through her heart. She loathed the beast and 
yet loved the bridegroom ; and how should 
she judge whether her mate was worthy of her 
love? 

He was much concerned about the two sis- 
ters and asked whether Psyche had seen them 
during the day and how they had behaved. 
The poor girl did not conceal from him that 
she had received the two queens again and 
that they were very anxious about her fate. 
And why should they not be? Was it not sad 
for a woman not to know, nor to see, the man 
who would be the father of her children, and 
should not those who loved her be concerned 
about her fate? Psyche wept bitterly, urging 
that if her husband loved her he should show 
himself to her in his real form. She insisted 
that she could bear the worst, but must at last 
have certitude. 

"The moment thou seest me, thy happi- 
ness will be ended," replied the mysterious 
youth. u Trust in me, and all will be well, 
but doubt will bring thee to the brink of per- 
dition ; yea, it may ruin thee." These words 



EROS AND PSYCHE. 43 

of kindly warning were so convincing and the 
sound of her lover's voice so sweet and sin- 
cere, that Psyche yielded again to his em- 
braces and resolved to confide in him impli- 
citly. How could he be false to her? If he 
were, he would neither be so affectionate nor 
so confiding. There he lay fast asleep, while 
she (poor girl ! ) by reason of her disquieted 
state of mind remained awake. 

Psyche was naturally demure and coy. 
Heretofore she had merely dared to clasp her 
hands round her consort's neck, but now her 
desire to know more about him made her 
touch his arm and his back, when suddenly 
she felt something weird — it was something 
strange, like feathers — certainly not human 
in form. A feeling that it must be something 
uncanny came over her. She was terror- 
stricken, and had not an overwhelming dread 
sealed her lips she would have shrieked aloud. 
She rose noiselessly and went out to search 
for a dagger and a lamp. With all her fears 
and presentiments she had ever preserved till 
now a glimmer of hope that her husband was 
human and kind and loving; but now she 



44 EROS AND PSYCHE. 

knew (or at least was firmly convinced that 
she had good reason to think) that he was an 
unnatural beast of some terrible shape. 

She lit the lamp and returned to the couch, 
where she expected to find the terrible dragon 
whose victim she had become. 

Trembling with excitement, Psyche raised 
her hand armed with a sharp blade and ready 
to strike with all her might. Suddenly she 
paused, murmuring to herself : "I must strike 
him in some vital spot so as to kill him at the 
first blow," — when behold ! The rays of light 
disclosed to her sight that most beautiful 
youth — Eros, the god of love, with wings on 
his shoulders and bow and arrows lying at his 
side. She was overwhelmed with delight and 
raised the lamp over the fair sleeper when 
suddenly a portion of the hot oil dripping 
down scalded the right shoulder of Eros badly 
and wakened him. 

11 Psyche, Psyche! " exclaimed the fairest 
of the gods, "why didst thou betray my con- 
fidence? I must leave thee now and can no 
longer protect thee against the intrigues of 
thine enemies." 



EROS AND PSYCHE. 



45 



With these words Eros rose and flew into 
the air. Hesitating a moment, he hovered 
before the window to take a farewell look 
at his beautiful bride. Psyche seized the be- 




loved fugitive and tried to hold him, but her 
strength gave out ; and she would have fallen 
to the ground, had he not held her up, and, 
descending with his dear burden to the earth, 
tenderly laid the weeping maiden on the soft 



46 



EROS AND PSYCHE. 



turf of the meadow. Then he hied himself 
away, disappearing behind the clouds which 
just began to glow in the gold-red light of 
Eos, the goddess of the dawn. 




e'lia 




r ^s^mmm ss^^mssss^smE^sssB^ss^ssm^sEE^WMmmm\£ 



::' 



S 



THE PUNISHMENT OF GUILT. 

POOR Psyche wrung her hands in despair. 
Her first thought was to make a speedy 
end of her misery and so she ran to the river 
and threw herself into its waters. The water 
nymphs, however, took pity on her. Bearing 
up her body, they carried the gentle wife of 
Eros to the opposite shore. There on a rock 
sat Pan, the shepherds' god, playing his flute. 
Seeing the despair of the fair damsel, he came 
to the river bank and asked what he could do 
for her; and when she refused all help he 
said : l ' Poor girl ! You look as if you had 
been thwarted in love. Be not despondent, 
but implore the help of Eros ; he will listen 
to your prayer and grant your secret wishes, 
for he is a friend of all lovers." 

Psyche thanked Pan for his good advice, 
and whispering a prayer to Eros rushed away, 



48 



EROS AND PSYCHE. 



— up the mountain and down the mountain, 
over stony ledges, past crags and rocks, 
through narrow passes everywhere surrounded 
by a wilderness full of brambles and thistles 




and thorns. The animals of the forest, the 
deer, the squirrels, and the birds of the air 
served her as guides. At last she reached the 
waving wheat fields on the farther side of the 
mountain, where the country was dotted with 



EROS AND PSYCHE. 49 

the homes of men. She sought the palace of 
her aged father; but both her parents had 
died and she was now a lonely, helpless or- 
phan. After a long and wearisome journey 
she arrived broken-hearted and footsore at the 
residence of her eldest sister, Megalometis. 

Having asked for admission, Psyche was 
at once ushered into the presence of the 
Queen and related to her the story of her mis- 
fortune, saying: "I acted on the advice you 
gave me and was determined to slay the mon- 
ster with a sharp knife, when behold, I saw 
by the light of my lamp that my husband was 
not a voracious beast, but Eros, the God of 
Love himself. I might still have escaped the 
evil fruits of my perversity had I at once ex- 
tinguished the lamp and thrown away the 
dagger; but I was so enraptured with the 
sight that I could not help gazing at the 
beautiful features of the youthful god ; and as 
I gave myself up to my ecstasy I carelessly 
allowed some hot oil to drip on his shoul- 
der. He has now discarded me as unworthy 
of his love, and taken flight never to see me 
again." 



50 EROS AND PSYCHE. 

Megalometis pretended to be greatly agi- 
tated, but inwardly rejoiced and thought to 
herself: u Eros being disgusted with Psyche 
will look for another consort and will gladly 
select a sister of Psyche who is as beautiful as 
his first partner, but will be more prudent 
than this silly child.' ' 

Suppressing her secret satisfaction, she 
plied the unfortunate woman with cunning 
questions as to the interest which her lover 
had evinced in his sisters-in-law and became 
confirmed in her belief through the answers 
she received, that Eros had known of their 
plans and might have prevented the catas- 
trophe if he had cared much for Psyche. Ap- 
parently he was ready for a new bride, and so 
she determined to approach him with vows of 
love. She dismissed Psyche, advising her to 
seek assistance at the home of her second sis- 
ter, and began at once to erect a temple to be 
devoted to the god of lovers. But the old 
King, the husband of Megalometis, was ex- 
tremely jealous, and surprising her once at 
the altar while praying for the requital of her 
passion, he grew angry and without waiting 



EROS AND PSYCHE. 51 

for an explanation of her imprudent prayer, 
slew her on the spot. 

Psyche was received with similar hypocrit- 
ical kindness by Baskania, who secretly cher- 
ished the same hopes as her elder sister. She 
too felt confident that having rejected Psyche, 
Eros would gladly enter into a new alliance. 
And having not the slightest doubt that 




through the extraordinary fascination which 
made her charms irresistible whenever she 
wished to captivate the fancy of a man, she 
would be acceptable to the young god, Baska- 
nia journeyed to the place where the monu- 
ment had been erected in commemoration of 
Psyche's sacrifice, and ascending the rock she 
lay down exclaiming: u Receive me, Eros, a 



52 EROS AND PSYCHE. 

wife worthy of thee ; in me thou canst trust ; 
I will never betray thee ! ' J 

When the breeze of the evening wind made 
her hair flutter, Baskania rose, and, standing 
close to the brink of the precipice, shouted: 
u Zephyr, be thou my messenger and carry 
me to thy master. " She bounded into the air, 
as she had done before when about to visit 
Psyche, but this time the gentle Zephyr was 
not present to receive her, and she fell head- 
long from the mountain and perished miser- 
ably at the bottom of the abyss. 

Such was the punishment which befell 
Psyche's wicked sisters, led to perdition by 
their own envy and evil intentions. 



THE CENSURE. 

EROS, in the meantime, suffered unspeak- 
able pain from the burn caused by the 
hot oil that had fallen upon his shoulder. He 
returned home, and, sick with fever, took to 
his couch lamenting and moaning. A sea-gull 
which had watched him in his flight, followed 
him stealthily, and peeping into the window 
of his chamber saw him stretched on the bed 
apparently ill and suffering great agony. The 
fleet bird returned to the sea and sent word 
through one of the daughters of Nereus to the 
mother of Eros, who was disporting herself in 
the depths of the ocean, that her son must 
have met with an accident, for he lay sick in 
bed, adding that his recovery seemed doubtful. 
Aphrodite at once inquired of all creatures 
what they knew about her boy and how he 
might have been hurt, but her commiseration 



54 EROS AND PSYCHE. 

changed into wrath when she heard of his 
secret love affair with Psyche. " Is it pos- 
sible ?" exclaimed the goddess. "This mis- 
chievous fellow has neither obedience nor filial 
piety. Did I not command him to take awful 
revenge on my rival and to ruin her by some 
unworthy passion? And now he selects her 
as his own paramour ! He is not worthy to 
be my son and should no longer partake of 
the divinity which he has inherited from me, 
the great mother of life and the queen of ani- 
mate existence ! ' ' 

Aphrodite hurried home and began to be- 
rate her son with bitter words : ' ' What a way- 
ward and ungrateful child you are," said she, 
u and what a scandal there will be in Olym- 
pus ! The rumor of your escapades is being 
bruited about and will soon be known to all 
the gods. You have made your mother 
ashamed of her son. And I suppose you were 
foolish enough to marry that stupid girl, — a 
mere mortal without dignity or discretion. 
What an ill-matched couple you would make ! 
And are you not aware how I must feel at 
your making an enemy of mine my daughter- 



EROS AND PSYCHE. 



55 



in-law? Think of it! An earth-born woman 
to dare to come forth as my rival and aspire 
to be your wife ! It will be a disgrace for you, 
for me, for the whole family of the gods. Do 




you believe that I could ever give my consent 
to your union with Psyche?- — No! I shall 
have you punished, and will see to it that 
Psyche shall find a place of eternal torment 
in the infernal regions. " 



56 EROS AND PSYCHE. 

Flushed with anger and slamming the door, 
she called Vulcan Hephaestos, her husband. 
u Please, look out for the boy lest he escape, " 
she said imperiously, like a woman wont to 
compel the obedience of an humble and de- 
voted husband. u Build at once for this wan- 
ton bird a big, strong cage with iron bars, for 
I will show to the world and to all the gods 
that my authority cannot so easily be set 
aside, /am the deity of love, not he. I shall 
yield neither to that upstart girl nor to this 
arrant knave, even though he be my own 
son!" 

The god of the fiery forge muttered grum- 
blingly between his teeth some words which 
might be taken for an indication of protest 
as well as of submission. His reply caused 
her to stop and turn on him rather sharply 
with the question : " What did you say?" 

u O, nothing at all," said Hephaestos; 
1 l 1 was only thinking that I had never ex- 
pected anything better of the boy. He is a 
villain and will ever remain one ; ' ' and he 
added in an undertone, careful not to be heard 
by his wife, who was beautiful even in her 



EROS AND PSYCHE. 57 

anger : u Nor can he help it. He is born so ; 
he is his mother's son." 

At that moment Demeter and Hera en- 
tered and became unwilling witnesses of this 
little domestic squabble. But Aphrodite did 
not seem to mind their presence, for she at 
once explained the situation. "You come 
in season,' ' she added; " help me to find 
and punish Psyche, for I must have my re- 
venge ! ' ' 

The two visitors tried to mollify the anger 
of their cousin and could not understand what 
grievous sin Eros had committed. They 
granted that it was a mortal offence for a hu- 
man being to be a rival of one of the Olym- 
pian gods, and that Psyche deserved a severe 
humiliation. But that could be punished and 
had nothing to do with the love affair of Eros. 
1 ' On the one hand is not the girl of royal 
blood, " replied Demeter, "and is she not a 
good match for Eros? On the other hand, 
such a gallant little adventure is exactly the 
thing one would have expected of your son, 
who in every respect follows in the footsteps 
of his mother. When the apples are ripe, 



58 EROS AND PSYCHE. 

they do not fall far away from the tree, and 
there is no reason to grow excited about it." 
Aphrodite had difficulty to suppress her 
indignation and turned for support to Hera, 
the dignified wife of Zeus and Queen of 
Heaven. The latter did not quite share the 
views of Demeter, but neither did she counte- 
nance the opinion of Aphrodite. Though she 
had no excuse for the conduct of Eros, she 
pleaded Psyche's cause, saying: " Have not 
several mortals been received among the 
Olympians? Even I, the Queen of Heaven, 
had to allow Heracles to become one of us, 
and he was the son of a mortal woman, one of 
my rivals ; but when I became convinced that 
he was worthy of the honor, I was glad to 
welcome him as one of the immortals and 
offered him with my own hands the nectar 
cup that endowed his person with everlasting 
life. My daughter Hebe, the goddess of 
eternal youth, has become his spouse and he 
will remain to mortal men for ever the par- 
agon of human excellence." 



THE QUEST. 

PSYCHE continued her desolate journey, 
wandering hither and thither and resting 
neither night nor day in her search for Eros. 
If she could not regain the affections of her 
husband by proving to him her devotion, she 
was at least determined to propitiate him with 
the humble services of a handmaid. 

While walking along the high road she 
saw a noble temple on the top of a mountain, 
and called out: "O that it might be the 
abode of my lover and lord!" And, attracted 
by the beauty of the building and its high 
columns, she wended her way toward its en- 
trance. 

The sanctum of the temple was decorated 
with wreaths of ears of wheat, and sheaves 
were placed here and there around the altar. 
There were sickles and other implements of 



60 EROS AND PSYCHE, 

harvesting, but everything lay about in dis- 
order, thrown down at random by the hands 
of the fatigued harvesters. Psyche at once 
began to arrange the emblems of rural indus- 
try in good order, and said within herself: 
1 ' I must not neglect the shrines of the gods 
nor their holy service, for I might thereby 
gain mercy for myself and forgiveness of my 
failings." 

It was a temple of Demeter, and when the 
goddess saw Psyche diligently attending to 
the task of a servant in the hall of the temple, 
she cried out: "Alas! Psyche, what are you 
doing? Venus Aphrodite is tracking your 
footsteps and means to wreak vengeance upon 
you for the offence which you have given her ; 
and you, not thinking of your own safety, are 
working here in the temple and taking care of 
my paraphernalia ! ' ' 

Psyche fell upon her knees and conjured 
the goddess to assist her in finding her beloved 
husband. " By the joyful harvest rites; by 
the mysteries of Eleusis, with its lighted lamps 
and solemn processions ; by the sacred chests 
that conceal the symbolic utensils; by the 



EROS AND PSYCHE. 61 

fiery chariot drawn by winged dragons ; by 
the countenance of the awful Hades who 
snatched away thy daughter Persephone ; by 
her marriage and descent into the infernal re- 
gions ; by the hallowed earth that closed upon 
her and her abductor ; by the joyous return of 
the goddess with torch-illumined processions ; 
and by thy sacred sanctuary in Attica ; by all 
the venerable traditions and the solemn silence 
that surrounds thy rites — I implore thee to 
succor the wretched Psyche and to look with 
compassion upon thy humble supplicant. Suf- 
fer me for a few days only to hide myself 
among the wheat sheaves, until the anger of 
the goddess who pursues me without cause 
has passed away, or at least is mitigated by 
the lapse of time. I am worn out by long 
travel, my feet are sore, my soul is weary, 
and I long to recover strength for continuing 
my search." 

But the goddess of the golden harvest re- 
mained unmoved by the maiden's entreaties 
and bade her humble supplicant rise to her 
feet. "I should be glad to assist you," she 
said, "but I am powerless, for I should only 



62 



EROS AND PSYCHE. 



incur the hostility of a sister goddess, without 
rendering you any help. In fact, I am bound 
by the rules of the celestials to take you pris- 
oner and hand you over to her wrath ; and I 
make myself guilty of a breach of the estab- 




lished etiquette in simply bidding you leave 
my temple and begone." 

With these words Demeter turned her 
back, and Psyche left the temple. Her afflic- 
tions were now doubled. She not only longed 
for a reunion with her husband but also feared 
the anger of Aphrodite, one of the most power- 



EROS AND PSYCHE. 63 

ful goddesses, and there was none to whom 
she might apply for help or protection. 

She strayed down to the valley, and espied 
among the tall trees of a sacred grove another 
temple of magnificent structure. It was a 
temple of Hera, Queen of Heaven and wife of 
Zeus, the great father of all the gods and 
men. Hoping to receive consideration at the 
hands of her who claimed to be protectress of 
the dignity of wives and mothers, Psyche en- 
tered and beheld the noble offerings and em- 
broidered garments hung round with votive 
inscriptions. She fell upon her knees and 
embracing the altar she addressed the great 
goddess in prayer : " O, consort of the mighty 
Father, whose power extends over all the 
world, O holy lady, who art adored as the 
Virgin Mother of the gods, Queen of Olym- 
pus, passing through the heavens in a chariot 
drawn by lions, thou mistress of the island of 
Samos and the fortified city of Argos on the 
banks of the Inachus, protectress of holy mat- 
rimony, listen to my prayer and consider my 
overwhelming misfortunes I ' ' 

The auspicious goddess at once appeared 



64 BROS AND PSYCHE. 

in august majesty before the eyes of the sup- 
plicant and said : i l Readily would I grant 
your prayer if I were not bound to respect the 
wishes of Aphrodite, my daughter-in-law, 
whom I love and cherish as my own child. I 
hope that fate will not overburden you in your 
distress, and that your trials may draw to a 
happy conclusion ; but I cannot interfere and 
must leave you to your own destiny. Be 
steadfast and faithful and you will work out 
your own salvation.'' 

Utterly dismayed by this new rebuff, 
Psyche decided to give up the attempt to find 
a place of refuge or to secure her own safety, 
and said to herself : "I cannot escape the 
wrath of Aphrodite, and it will be best to sub- 
mit patiently and humbly to the penance 
which the goddess may impose upon me. I 
shall certainly not find my lost husband by 
searching the world, but I am quite likely to 
meet him again in the home of his mother. I 
will be resolute and approach my enemy and 
pursuer boldly. It is true she hates me, but 
is she not at the same time the mother of him 
whom I love with a devotion that knows no 



EROS AND PSYCHE. 65 

bounds? It may be my own destruction, but 
there is no other chance left. If I am doomed 
I shall prefer to die willingly and courage- 
ously. Better bleed to death as a willing sac- 
rifice on the altar of the gods than be hunted 
down like a wounded doe in the chase." 



SUBMISSION. 

AFTER a vain pursuit of Psyche through- 
- out the cities of Greece and other coun- 
tries, Aphrodite returned to her home in 
Heaven. She rode in a chariot of pure gold 
which Hephaestos, her husband, had skilfully 
wrought for her in the shape of a shell, as a 
wedding present, rendering the precious metal 
more precious by chiselling away a part of it 
and giving it a beautiful form. Four white 
doves of the flock that nestled under the eaves 
of her celestial mansion were hitched to the 
beam and drew it onward with wondrous 
ease. Riotous sparrows fluttered round their 
mistress, noisily chattering and proclaiming 
the approach of the great goddess, whose train 
passed gracefully through the sky like a ro- 
seate cloudlet. 

Soon the ether opened before the eyes of 



EROS AND PSYCHE. 



67 



the goddess and, having reached the summit 
of Mount Olympus, Aphrodite approached the 
throne of Zeus, the mighty thunderer and 
ruler of the world. She saluted him with 




noble dignity and asked for the services of 
Hermes, the herald of the celestials, which 
the great father of the gods granted without 
further inquiry. Hermes, being called, cor- 
dially greeted the fair goddess, and learning 



68 EROS AND PSYCHE. 

her desire at once put on his winged shoes, 
thus making himself ready for a descent to 
the earth. 

Journeying together in the golden chariot, 
Aphrodite, the goddess, addressed him with 
winning words: " My dear brother, " she 
said, " you know that I never do anything 
without your advice and I now need your as- 
sistance in a special case that causes me much 
annoyance. A mortal girl, who has dared to 
be a rival of my dignity and who has thus for- 
feited to me her life and is now by right my 
slave, has absconded, and I am unable to find 
her. I must resort, therefore, to publishing a 
proclamation, and issue a warrant for her 
capture. " Thereupon Aphrodite handed the 
herald-god a paper which contained the name 
of Psyche and a description of her person, 
naming at the same time the reward which 
she promised for the arrest of the fugitive. 

The proceeding had become superfluous, 
however, for scarcely had the goddess re- 
turned to her home when Psyche approached 
the gates of the palace and voluntarily de- 
livered herself into the hands of her enemy. 



EROS AND PSYCHE. 69 

One of Aphrodite's servants, Fashion by 
name, met Psyche at the door and cried out: 
u Thou wicked wench! Thou art the very 
person my mistress is seeking." 

Fashion seized the frightened damsel by 
the hair and dragged her violently into the 
presence of Aphrodite, who addressed her 
with haughty irony : "At last you deign to 
pay your respects to your mother-in-law? I 
suppose you know, my fair young lady, that 
if you had not come of your own accord, I 
should soon have discovered your hiding- 
place ; but now I will treat you according to 
your deserts." 



THE THREE TASKS. 

PSYCHE protested that she would will- 
ingly and gladly serve the mother of 
Eros and be in every respect obedient to her 
behests, saying: "I beg you to try me and 
receive me as a handmaid in your house, only 
have mercy on me and desist from hating 
me." 

Aphrodite replied, "We shall see what 
you can do," and led the humble petitioner 
out to the barn where she took barley, millet, 
poppy seed, and every other kind of grain, 
mixed them well together in an enormous 
heap and scornfully said : " I will test both 
your patience and skill. Sort these seeds 
grain by grain, and unless the task be done 
before the evening I will deliver you over to 
my servants, Anxiety and Sorrow, who shall 
torment and chastise you with due severity." 



EROS AND PSYCHE. 7\ 

Then, leaving the frightened girl alone with 
her formidable task, she shut her up in the 
great barn. 

Psyche was broken-hearted, and looked in 
silent despair upon the mountain of mixed 
grain. But before she could consider how 
she might perform this intricate work, a tiny 
ant came out, and pitying the distress of the 
forlorn maiden, whom it knew to be the con- 
sort of the mightiest of the gods, summoned 
the help of its innumerable comrades. A whole 
tribe of thousands and thousands of these lit- 
tle creatures soon made their appearance and 
began to sort the heap of seeds. Their work 
did not last long, and the task was soon com- 
pleted. 

When Aphrodite returned at night-fall, 
exhilarated by the joyous festivities of a nup- 
tial banquet, decorated with roses, and resplen- 
dent with beauty, she saw the marvellous task 
performed and cried out: "This is not the 
work of your own hands ; for I am sure you 
could not have finished it without assistance. 
But I will give you another task." 

A piece of coarse bread and a jar of spring- 



72 



EROS AND PSYCHE. 



water was the only meal she granted the beau- 
tiful bride of her son, and turning her back 
upon the frightened girl, the goddess left 
Psyche alone in the cold barn. 

On the next morning Aphrodite reap- 
peared, still showing her irreconcilable hatred. 




She pointed to the woods and said : { i Do you 
seethe forest beyond the stream? Go out into 
the wilderness and you will find grazing there 
a flock of sheep with fleece that shines like 
gold. I want a tuft of that precious wool. Go 
then and bring it me. But mind you, the 
sheep are wild, and when you approach them 



EROS AND PSYCHE. 



73 



they will butt you ferociously and may kill 



you 



n 



Psyche went out to the stream, not so 
much to obey the commands of her severe 
mistress, as to meet death either on the horns 
of the wether or in the depths of the river. 




But when she came to the banks of the stream, 
the nymph of the reeds, the mother of music, 
began to speak with the voice of a flute : " O 
Psyche, do not desecrate the waters of the 
river by making it your tomb ; nor approach 
the wether or any of the sheep while they are 
browsing in the woods. They are fierce and 



74 EROS AND PSYCHE. 

will certainly destroy you. If you will follow 
my advice, lie down under the shadowy plane- 
tree ; when the sun has descended from the 
meridian and approached the horizon, go out 
to the place where the sheep have passed 
through brush-wood; there, without encoun- 
tering danger, you may gather the golden 
tufts from the thorns of the bushes.' ' 

Psyche acted according to the advice of 
the reed-nymph ; and when she came home, 
Venus looked on her with amazement and 
said: " How did you escape death in the wil- 
derness, and how did you procure the golden 
tuft from the fierce sheep? n 

When Psyche told her how easily she had 
completed her task, the goddess replied: "I 
know very well that it was not your wisdom 
that made you succeed, but I will propose a 
third trial which will probe not only your dis- 
cretion but also test the courage of your 
heart. " 

Psyche looked expectantly at her tor- 
mentor, and Aphrodite continued : " Here is a 
water-urn of purest crystal ; take it and ascend 
the mountain. In the most desolate region of 



EROS AND PSYCHE. 75 

the wilderness you will find the place where 
the waters of Cocytus roll, rushing down over 
the steep precipice to disappear in an unfath- 
omable abyss. Fetch me some water from the 
fountain-head of the holy river, and I will test 
thereby whether you are worthy of my son." 
Psyche took the crystal urn and hurried 
out to the source of Cocytus, but found the 
rock over which its wild waters rushed in- 
accessible. The place was haunted by wild 
dragons who were lurking in the clefts of the 
cliffs, threatening her with hisses and opening 
their wide jaws as if to devour her. Over- 
come by the terrors of the place, Psyche 
burst into tears, when suddenly a mighty bird 
came down to her from the heavens. It was 
the strong eagle of Zeus, which hovered by 
her side and inspired her with new courage. 
Remembering the good services with which 
Eros assisted him when sent down to bring 
up to the throne of Zeus the Phrygian cup- 
bearer, Ganymede, the father of gods was de- 
termined to prove his gratitude by hastening 
to help the wife of the god of love in her dis- 
tress. 



76 



EROS AND PSYCHE. 



The eagle addressed the despondent way- 
farer, saying: u O simple-minded maiden! 
Do you imagine you can catch one drop from 
the source of these enchanted waters without 
being hurled into the deep gorge? The mere 




attempt is sure death. But give me the urn, 
and I shall be glad to fill it for you." 

The royal bird of the mighty Zeus took 
the vessel in his talons and, flying up to the 
rushing torrent, filled it from the dashing 
waves of the river, amid the furious attacks 
of dragons and venomous reptiles. Psyche 



EROS AND PSYCHE. 77 

was glad to receive the water and quickly re- 
turned to Aphrodite whose anger was intensi- 
fied rather than appeased by the success of 
her humble daughter-in-law. " You have 
again completed your task beyond my expec- 
tation, n said she; "you seem to be a verit- 
able witch who can work miracles ; but do not 
hope to escape thus lightly. There is one 
more thing in which you must serve me. 
That, however, I expect, will be the last." 



THE REALM OF DEATH. 

APHRODITE was mortified at the suc- 
- cessful termination of the three tasks 
set Psyche and said to herself ; " I will now 
go about it in a more determined way and 
bring this unsatisfactory relation to a def- 
inite conclusion. I will so arrange it that 
the silly creature must perish. n So she took 
a little vase curiously wrought of gold and 
decorated with inlaid enamel, and said to 
Psyche: " Take this vessel down to the in- 
fernal regions and deliver it to Persephone, 
my niece, the noble Queen of King Hades, 
called Pluto, the ruler of the dead. Tell her 
that I am anxious to receive from her some 
spray from the fountain of youth ; and let it 
be enough to restore the beauty of seven 
days ; for that much I have lost in minister- 
ing unto my sick son. Begone, and make 



EROS AND PSYCHE. 79 

haste. I wish you luck on your journey, and 
when you have procured the rare gift let your 
ascent be speedy, n — adding in an undertone 
— " if ever you can find your way back from 
the country whence there is no return! " 

Psyche now gave up all hope. She knew 
that he who went down to the infernal regions 
would never again behold the light of the sun . 
But she was willing to obey, and proceeded 
toward a high tower, "For," thought she, 
" if I precipitate myself from its battlements 
I shall most quickly reach the land of the 
shades. n 

When she arrived, the tower suddenly ad- 
dressed her and said: " Miserable maiden, 
why dost thou attempt to destroy thyself, and 
why dost thou give up so quickly in the face 
of great danger where endurance and courage 
are most needed? Truly, if thou hurlest thy- 
self down thou wilt reach Hades but with no 
chance to return thence to the world of the 



sun." 



Psyche sat down at the entrance of the 
tower and said : u What shall I do? There is 
nothing left for me but to die." 



80 



EROS AND PSYCHE. 



The tower replied : ' ' Take courage and 
listen. Near Lacedaemon, in the mountains, 
is a gorge within which is a cave known to be 
the breathing-hole of the Nether World. In 




its yawning depth is an untrodden road that 
will lead thee to the palace of Hades. But 
thou must not pass by the shades with empty 
hands. Take along some barley -bread soaked 
in hydromel, that old-fashioned drink made 



EROS AND PSYCHE. 81 

of honey and water, and put in thy mouth 
two coins. When thou hast accomplished a 
good part of thy journey thou wilt meet a 
lame ass laden with wood, and a lame driver, 
who will ask thee to hand him some cords to 
fasten the burden which has fallen from the 
ass. But beware of him, and pass him by in 
silence. It is a device of the rulers of the 
shades to detain visitors on the way and to 
prevent their return. Then thou wilt arrive 
at the river of the dead and must pay Charon 
his fee for ferrying thee over to the other 
shore ; for avarice is practised even in the 
realm of death. Let Charon have one of the 
coins, which thou must allow him to take 
from thy mouth with his own hands, and keep 
the other coin for thy return. While thou 
passest over the sluggish river the corpse of 
an old man will float on the surface and raise 
his hand in entreaty to help him into the 
boat. It is but another device to entangle 
thee in the affairs of the Nether World. Be- 
ware of yielding to any impulse of sympathy, 
but keep silent and suffer the boat to pass by. 
Having reached the other shore, thou wilt 



82 EROS AND PSYCHE. 

find at a little distance three old women weav- 
ing, who will request thee to lend them a 
helping hand. But it is not lawful for thee 
to touch the web. Pass the weird spinsters 
by and heed them not. All these and many 
other apparitions are snares prepared for thee. 
If thou liftest thy hand, anxious to assist 
others, thou wilt drop some of thy hydromel 
bread without which thou wilt be unable to 
return to the light. There is at the threshold 
of Persephone's castle a large fierce watch-dog 
with three heads, who by his barking terror- 
ises the dead, lest any one of them escape. 
Appease him with a sop of thy hydromel 
bread, and thou wilt have no difficulty in pass- 
ing him by. When thou enterest the portal, 
thou wilt come directly into the presence of 
Persephone, who will receive thee graciously. 
She will ask thee to be seated and to partake 
of a sumptuous banquet ; but refuse all her 
courteous offers, for if thou eatest a morsel of 
the food of the shades thou must stay with 
them forever. Therefore tell Persephone that 
a piece of common rye-bread will be sufficient 
for thee; this she will give thee, and do thou 



EROS AND PSYCHE. 83 

eat it. Then is the time to attend to thy er- 
rand ; hand her the vase, and having received 
in it the gift for Aphrodite, thou may est return 
to the world of light. Thou must again bribe 
the cruel dog with the rest of thy hydromel 
bread, pay the ferryman with the coin reserved 
in thy mouth for the purpose ; and having 
passed back over the river thou wilt, after 
journeying through the cave, again reach its 
entrance, where the light of the celestial stars 
will greet thee. But I warn thee above all 
things to be very careful with the mysterious 
vase in thy charge; do not open it, do not 
even look at it, nor try to explore the treasure 
that is concealed in it." 

Psyche proceeded to Lacedsemon and found 
the cave in the gorge. Having procured two 
coins and the barley -bread soaked in hydro- 
mel, she ventured into the avenue that leads 
to the infernal regions. She passed the lame 
ass with its lame driver, let the ferryman take 
his fee, turned a deaf ear to the entreaties of 
the floating corpse, ignored the request of the 
grey-haired spinsters, assuaged the furious 
dog with a sop of hydromel bread, and entered 



84 



EROS AND PSYCHE. 



the palace of Hades. Persephone, seated by 
the side of her awful husband , listened in kind- 
ness to the maiden's message and granted the 
petition. Remembering her own sad fate, the 
goddess felt compassion and invited her fair 
guest to eat at the royal table ; but Psyche 




declined and was contented with a piece of 
rye-bread for supper. Having received Per- 
sephone's gift in her golden vase, the anxious 
wanderer returned by the way which she had 
come. A second time filling the jaws of the 
watch-dog and paying the ferryman with the 



EROS AND PSYCHE. 85 

coin still left in her mouth, she fled from the 
infernal regions, bent on a return to the world 
of the living early in the morning while the 
stars were still shining in the heavens. 

While she was wending her way through 
the cold cavern she said to herself: "How 
wondrous is love! I have gone through the 
domains of hell and death for the sake of my 
love and my love helped me to endure all 
these terrors. How wondrous strange is 
love!" When she spoke, her words were 
echoed in the recesses of the cave by spirit 
voices who exclaimed: 

"How wondrous is love, 

How wondrous strange is love!" 

The messengers of Eros were waiting for 
the weary wanderer at the entrance of the 
cave and cheered her soul with this song: 

"How wondrous is love! 

Love's bitter pangs, how are they sweet; 

Its sorrows will with pleasure meet, 

And joy and pain each other greet. 

Love's victory is like defeat. 

How wondrous strange is love ! 



86 EROS AND PSYCHE. 

"How wondrous is love! 

No loveless heart is ever blessed; 

Love's hopes and fears are life's sweet zest; 

In love at last our hearts find rest. 

In all the world, love is the best. 

How wondrous strange is love ! 

"How wondrous is love! 

Love is a fire no power can quell ; 

Tis hell in heaven, 'tis heaven in hell; 

A torture 'tis, and yet as well 

'Tis gladness which no one may tell. 

How wondrous strange is love ! 

"How wondrous is love! 
When life is past we need not moan ; 
We shall remain when life is gone, 
And 'tis through love that souls live on. 
Love can alone death's doom atone. 
How wondrous strange is love!" 

Having overcome all these dangers, con- 
trary to her own expectation, she began to 
ponder on the terrible scenes which she had 
witnessed. She thought of the vase and its 
contents, and said to herself: "How foolish I 
am! Here I hold in my hand spray from the 
fountain of youth, the very essence of divine 
beauty, and I am on my way to deliver it to 
the woman who hates me and designs my de- 



EROS AND PSYCHE. 



87 



struction. Why should I not open the vessel 
and keep the precious gift for myself, which 
would make me fair to behold and would for- 
ever bind my husband to me by the most 
powerful of ties?" 



<s. 



<!£*. 




She lifted the lid, and the essence with its 
deadly odor poured out in the shape of vapor. 
It contained no beauty, but proved to be Sty- 
gian sleep and forgetfulness, which immediate- 
ly seized her, and she sank down prostrate 
on the ground, surrounded by a dense cloud 
of somnolence. 



THE MARRIAOE FEAST. 

EROS, in the meantime, had recovered 
from his illness. A butterfly that came 
fluttering through the window told him the 
latest news of the trials and misfortunes of 
Psyche. Having regained his former strength 
and recklessness, the youthful god easily out- 
witted the watchful Hephaestos, escaping from 
the chamber through a window and hurrying 
on the wings of love to the earth, to the very 
entrance of the cave in the gorge that leads to 
the infernal regions. He saw Psyche stretched 
on the ground motionless, wrapt in the sleep 
of death. " It is a kind providence, n he said 
to himself, " that allows me to arrive at the 
right moment to help the beloved maiden be- 
fore her sleep changes into death. n 

With these words Eros took away the 
Stygian slumber from Psyche's eyelids, and 



EROS AND PSYCHE. 



89 



restored the soporific vapor to the vessel from 
which it had escaped. Then touching Psyche 
with the point of one of his arrows, he called 
her back to life. " Unhappy girl!" he ex- 




claimed, "hast thou again become a victim to 
curiosity? Thou shouldst have known that 
the fountain of youth is a spring that is fed 
by the waters of Stygian Lethe. Only the 
celestial gods can partake of it without suffer- 



90 



EROS AND PSYCHE. 



ing harm, but poor mortal mankind, if ever 
they taste the drink of oblivion for the sake 
of its rejuvenescence, must pass constantly 
through death and birth." 




Awakened by a kiss from Eros, Psyche 
opened her eyes and saw her lover bending 
over her, anxiously watching her return to 
life. " Now thou seest," he said to her, smil- 
ing at his own good-natured rebuke, "how 



EROS AND PSYCHE. 91 

fatal thine inquisitiveness might have been. 
Take the vase and deliver it to Aphrodite; 
and whilst thou earnest out the demand of my 
mother I will see to the rest." 

He bade farewell to his blooming bride 
and flew straight up to Olympus to present 
his cause directly at the throne of Father 
Zeus. 

Big tears filled Psyche's eyes as she saw 
the beloved god soar upward to heaven. "Will 
he return? Does he still love me? Has not 
my beauty suffered through the severe trials 
to which I have so long been exposed? n She 
sat down on the bank of the stream that 
flowed past with almost imperceptible mo- 
tion and there saw her face reflected as in 
a clear mirror; and her heart leapt for joy, 
for indeed she was as beautiful as ever — nay 
more so, for her charms had ripened into full 
bloom ; she had grown maturer and the ex- 
pression of her face showed greater depth and 
comprehension. A feeling of unspeakable 
happiness came over her; she grew so gay 
and light-hearted that she felt as if she could 
rise into the air. Her whole nature seemed 



92 



EROS AND PSYCHE. 



transfigured and on her shoulders appeared 
two butterfly wings of marvellous iridescence. 



* 



* 



* 



The mighty father of the gods received 
Eros kindly and kissed the beloved young- 







ster, saying: " Thou indeed among the gods 
pay est least respect to the ruler of Olympus, 
and dost not shrink from involving me in the 
intrigues of thine earthly relations. But con- 
sidering that thou art very dear to me, and 



EROS AND PSYCHE. 



93 



that I have nursed thee with my own hand, I 
will gladly comply with thy wishes." 

With a smile of grandfatherly indulgence, 
the great Zeus ordered Hermes, the herald of 




Olympus, to convoke at once an assembly of 
all the celestials, and, since a high penalty 
was imposed upon any one that should be de- 
linquent, the assembly hall was soon filled. 
When Venus Aphrodite arrived in her 



94 EROS AND PSYCHE. 

shell chariot drawn by pigeons, she met her 
son Eros as he rushed down to the earth: 
" Mother," he said in a reproachful and al- 
most bitter tone; and yet there was at the 
same time a note of gentle pleading in his 
sweet voice; " Mother, if you persist in your 
objection to my marrying Psyche, I am deter- 
mined to leave high Olympus, to renounce my 
divinity, and to retire to the place to which 
your will may banish her. Tartaros in her 
company is a more welcome abode than 
Heaven without her." 

Aphrodite followed him with her eyes as 
he descended. She shook her head and said 
to herself : ' ' The boy is no longer himself ; I 
fear me, I must yield, or there will be some 
great calamity. n 

Eros descended to the earth where he 
found Psyche anxiously awaiting him. He 
greeted her with a kiss, and she informed her 
lover that she had delivered the vase and its 
contents to Aphrodite, but the goddess had 
received her disdainfully and dismissed her in 
disgrace, claiming that this time the task had 
not been completed rightfully and truly, for 



ER OS AND PSYCHE. 



95 



the vessel had been opened and the strength 
of its contents dissipated. 

" Do not mind my mother's severity," 
said Eros ; c * I have gained a most powerful 




ally in my grandfather, the mighty Zeus. 
Accompany me to Olympus and at the throne 
of the omnipotent sovereign of all the gods 
our destiny will be decided.'' 

Psyche leaned on the shoulder of Eros who 



96 EROS AND PSYCHE. 

placed his arm lovingly round her waist, and 
both were lifted up to heaven on the wings of 
divine happiness. 

In the meantime the great Zeus, the lofty 
sovereign of Heaven, took his seat on the 
throne and addressed the gods assembled in 
council : " Ye Olympian deities, who are here 
gathered together in complete number, ye are 
well acquainted with the flighty character of 
the youth Eros, the youngest of the gods, 
who, despite his frivolity, presides over the 
most important functions of the life of the 
world. I deem it necessary to bridle his im- 
petuosity and to restrain his impulsive na- 
ture. It will be best for him, for the gods, 
and for the welfare of the whole world, if he 
forthwith assume the responsibility of mar- 
riage. If he has a wife and the cares and wor- 
ries of a household, he will become sober and 
sedate;" and turning to Aphrodite, Zeus 
said : { l Since he has made his choice and 
pledged his troth to a maiden that pleases his 
fancy, we ordain that his marriage be recog- 
nised as legal and his bride accepted in the 
circle of the Olympians as our equal. The 



EROS AND PSYCHE. 97 

mother of the groom has had cause to be dis- 
satisfied with the choice of Eros, but I advise 
her to be lenient with her daughter-in-law, 
Psyche, who, though a mortal maiden, has 
proved herself worthy of her son's love and of 
kinship with the gods." 

Aphrodite was at first inclined to sulk, 
and ventured to raise objections ; but when she 
saw that the mighty brow of the great father 
of the Olympians became clouded with ire, she 
relented and granted that Psyche was worthy 
of her son's hand. Then the face of Zeus 
brightened again, and all the gods were pleased 
with his proposition. Apollo moved to cele- 
brate the marriage of the young couple at once 
in the banquet hall of high Olympus. He was 
seconded by Bacchus ; and the motion was 
carried when Eros in company with Psyche 
entered the assemblage. The young bride 
received the congratulations of the Olympians, 
and Zeus himself presented to her a bowl of 
nectar from which Psyche drank the bliss of 
immortality. 

The gods sat down to the banquet in the 
order of their dignity. Eros and Psyche, how- 



98 



EROS AND PSYCHE. 



ever, sat nearest to Zeus, the great father of 
the gods, and were now legally and solemnly 
for ever and aye joined in holy wedlock. 
Ganymede acted as cup-bearer to the mighty 
sovereign of Olympus, and Bacchus supplied 
the rest of the company with drink. 




After the banquet the merry-making was 
continued far into the night. The Seasons 
suffused the scene with roseate hue ; Apollo 
sang and played the lyre. The Muses played 
a grand symphony, Aphrodite danced before 
the gods and contrary to all expectation 



EROS AND PSYCHE. 99 

showed herself very gracious to the bride. 
Satyrs played the flute. 

Thus ended the sorrows of Psyche, and 
her happiness was complete when at the ap- 
pointed time she bore her husband a child, a 
little daughter, sweet and cunning and bright. 
When she smiled, her eyes beamed like sun- 
shine, and her parents called her u Joy." 

No one of the gods, and least of all Venus 
Aphrodite, ever found cause to regret that 




Psyche had been admitted to the circle of the 
celestials. Very soon it seemed as if she had 
been living in Olympus from time immemo- 
rial, and whenever she happened to be absent 
her happy face was sure to be missed. Since 
her arrival heaven seemed more radiant than 
before. 

The inhabitants of the earth rejoiced at 
the honors of the earth-born maiden. In 
Psj^che the divinity of the human soul had 



100 EROS AND PSYCHE. 

found official recognition among the Olymp- 
ians. Since thus the human had been deified, 
and since thereby the divine had revealed it- 
self as the truly human, mankind seemed 
more human and the gods more divine than 
ever. 

The human soul is prone to go astray, but 
if it remains faithful to its ideals, firm amid 
the temptations and vicissitudes of fate, and 
courageous even in the terrors of hell and 
under the shadows of death, it will at last find 
the path that leads unto life, and it will find 
it in Love. 

Love moves the universe. As attraction, 
Love sways the molar masses of gravitating 
bodies ; as affinity, Love joins atoms into 
higher combinations ; but Love reaches per- 
fection only when it is mated with the human 
soul ; for then Love becomes conscious and 
learns to know its own nature. In the human 
soul, however, Love is confronted with long- 
ing, with suffering, and with parting. It 
passes through trials and tribulations, but 
now at last Love finds bliss in otherness, 



EROS AND PSYCHE. 



101 



satisfaction in self-surrender, restitution to 
life in the sacrifice of its own being, and im- 
mortality in death. 

Death is the problem of life, but Love is 
its solution. 




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